New research based on genetic testing of grizzly bears in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks shows that the bear population is increasing in size. The tests also indicate that the population is not suffering from a lack of genetic diversity, which can happen in an animal population contained within a (relatively) small area. While the current range of the Yellowstone grizzly is around the size of South Carolina, that represents a greatly restricted home, as the species used to roam the U.S. from California to Ohio and from Alaska to Mexico. And while there were once tens of thousands of grizzlies in North America, there remain only about 2000 in the lower 48. Almost all of these are found in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, with a small population of maybe 80 bears in Washington state.
Of course, the state flag of California still features a grizzly bear, even though the last time a bear was seen in California was in 1924. In the 1800s, residents of San Francisco could watch grizzlies swim across the San Francisco Bay to Angel Island! What a sight that would be. The Center for Biological Diversity is calling for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to consider reintroducing grizzlies to California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. Read more at CBD’s newsroom here.
Read about the bear study here.
Read about bringing back grizzlies at Defenders of Wildlife’s site here
Legislation cracking down on international wildlife trafficking and supporting park rangers in Africa sailed through the House of Representatives yesterday with strong bipartisan support. Putting wildlife trafficking crimes on par with gun and drug trafficking, the bill would also allow the government to put much greater pressure on nations where poaching is rampant. It also provides support for front-line rangers to prevent poaching in African nations.
You can call on your senators to support the Global Anti-Poaching Act as it moves to the U.S. Senate next.
Easy link to find your senators’ phone numbers.
Read more at Defenders of Wildlife.
So, it took two days, but the poor humpback is free. Rescuers from the national oceans agency (NOAA) and San Diego SeaWorld finally cut away over 300 feet (!!) of fishing line, including a lobster trap, that was entangling the whale from tip to tail. There may have still been some fishing line in the whale’s mouth when it swam off, but hopefully it will be all right.
This incident is one of a growing number of whale entanglements. California fishermen are actively working with the state to come up with ways to prevent the abandonment of “orphan” fishing gear, which is usually what entangles marine mammals. Unfortunately, NOAA has had to respond to 50 whale entanglements so far this year.
If you see a marine mammal in distress, please maintain 100 yards distance, and call the NOAA Response Hotline at 1-877-SOS-WHALe (1-877-767-9425).
View the video at Huffington Post here
The Peninsula Open Space Trust is working with a really great organization called Rediscovering Horses to restore habitat and reduce wildfire risk, while providing a healthy life for unwanted horses. Capitalizing on horses’ natural herding instinct, land managers can direct them with movable fencing to graze on overgrown or poor-quality range.
By eating up invasive species or overgrown brush, the horse herds participate in ecological restoration. Unlike cattle, horses have evolved to eat and thrive on what might be considered “low-quality” forage, like weedy or woody plants. It’s a win-win!
Read more at the Peninsula Open Space Trust website here.
“Once an icon of overfishing, mismanagement, and stock decline, the northern Atlantic cod is showing signs of recovery according to new research….”
View the Science Daily article here.
Wow! Smart policies do pay off. As many of you know, the Amazon rainforest could be considered the “lungs of the Earth.” We really do need these and other large forests to keep our air breathable, clean, and cool. Thank you to the nation of Brazil for this incredible work.
Strategies included protecting half of the nation’s Amazon acreage as national parks and enforcing laws against illegal logging and burning. Inspired by Brazil’s progress, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged $618 million to the nation, mostly earmarked for rainforest protection.
Read more at the Christian Science Monitor here.
The world’s largest automaker says that, by 2050, almost all of its sales will be hybrids, fuel cell, or electric vehicles. Currently, about 85% of Toyota’s sales are gas or diesel vehicles. The other large automakers have their own plans to go green — today’s diesel villain Volkswagen expects to focus on plug-in hybrids, while Nissan is looking at electric vehicles.
Read more at the Wall Street Journal here.
The Columbia Land Trust has made significant headway toward removing an eight-mile road along the banks of southern Washington’s Klickitat River. Part of the Columbia River watershed, this river is being restored to provide better salmon habitat under the direction of the Yakama Nation Fisheries agency.
The video below is really beautiful. Thanks to the Land Trust Alliance for the link.
View the restoration video at the Columbia Land Trust site here
How cool is this? After trial runs — car-free days or limited car-free districts — various European cities have announced plans to go car-free, at least to some extent. The list featured below includes Paris, Brussels, Oslo, Dublin, Madrid, and Milan. I know the cities that just moved higher on my European Vacation to-do list.
View the Atlantic post here.
“As beaver populations rebound across North America, the ponds they create are proving to be an important factor in removing rapidly growing levels of nitrogen from waterways and estuaries, according to a new study. By creating ponds that slow down the movement of water, the beavers enable nitrogen — which comes from agricultural runoff, septic systems, and other human sources — to seep into soil, where much of it is broken down by bacteria.
“[R]esearchers at the University of Rhode Island said that beaver ponds can remove up to 45 percent of nitrogen in the water. One scientist said that when researchers began to consider the widespread presence of beaver ponds, “we realized that the ponds can make a notable difference in the amount of nitrate that flows from our streams to our estuaries.” Nitrogen pollution is a major problem worldwide, causing toxic algal blooms in rivers, estuaries, and oceans.”
Quoted from the Yale Environment 360 original, here.